Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 203
William Bradford's work titled Of Plymouth Plantation is the most complete firsthand account of the early history of the Pilgrims during the time in which they set up colonies along the eastern coast of North America. From it, historians have gleaned not only information about the geography and logistics of colonial settlements, but, more importantly, the attitudes and interests of their people.
The piece describes the voyage from Europe as "blessed" by God to deliver them safely to stable ground. The author employs this trope of stability to signify not only the prospect of solid land, but also to signify social, economic, and moral stability. Bradford also contrasts the pilgrims' voyage to Seneca's voyage in classical literature; while Seneca got scared and returned to his homeland, the pilgrims have a resolve to press on. They conceive of their homeland as a destination that is suspended and idealized.
Finally, the work casts the devastating genocide of American Indian tribes as a noble "sacrifice" for the future of the pilgrims. Bradford cannot be more explicit in conveying that his people objectified the American Indians as a kind of primitive, unintelligent sacrificial animal that was necessary to eradicate to create the world God intended for them.
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